Lamb Cutlets in Cider and Apple Marinade

OK… before you shout at me… cutlets, that’s what we used to call leg of lamb chops back in the old country… well, that’s what I think we used to call them. So, if you do a Big G search for lamb cutlets you see the images of the cuts with the ribs sticking out. Rather search “leg of lamb chops” to see what I’m really on about… or, be patient and read on. OK… back to the tale.

I think you’ll have to agree with me when I say lamb on the braai is special. Yep, so special that we often enjoy lamb ribs done on the coals. There’s an extra fun element to the ribs… well, as my GLW usually adds… it may be a little barbaric. And therein lies a wee problem. My GLW doesn’t enjoy the primeval. This got me thinking… why not ask Esquire Ryan, our main meat man, to mutilate a leg of lamb? Cut it into chops? He looked at me as if I sported at least four heads… one pig, one sheep, one bull and maybe even one snake.

The good man was heard to be mumbling something along the lines of sacrebleu as he went noisily about ransacking his cold-room! I have to qualify one thing… JR is a purest! He doesn’t have one of those “meat master” band-saw type of machines in his shop… all knife and saw, our JR. Maybe that’s why he’s not prone to selling leg of lamb all cut up but then, he shouldn’t be all cut up because I wanted a leg cut up… or should he?

Phew… writing recipes is hard work. I’ve not managed to progress past the butcher’s and I’ve already managed almost 300 words! Imagine if I was paid per word. OK, I’m not… so let me get on with proceedings. As I said in the distant past when this post began, I wanted the good lady and grand dad to enjoy their lamb as well… in a more sophisticated manner. However, I wanted the best possible cut… minimum bone, maximum flavour and succulence.That’s why I asked Esq JR to do his mutilation.

Right, the recipe. As is my norm, a bit of Big G searching usually gets me pointed in some sort of direction. I searched “apple and lamb” and was soon rewarded with this recipe. It needed tweaking, I decided. Why, well… I don’t like curry but I like spicy. Secondly, there was no mention of garlic… tragic in any man’s culinary world… well, some ladies are fond of the herb as well. One such lady is the GLW, so garlic is a must.

I wasn’t sure about the sugar but thought I have nothing to lose. I wasn’t sure about anything really but if you’ve been visiting this blog you’ll know I’m never too shy or sanctimonious to try something new. A few other things the recipe doesn’t mention… apples and cider. Yep, I have looooong believed that if the two go so well with me then they must go well with lamb. Something like steak and a splosh of good red grape cordial.

My recipe?

  • One red onion, chopped finely
  • Garlic, as much as you desire, remembering not to overpower the lamb
  • One chopped hot chilli… or two if you so feel
  • Two smallish Granny Smith apples, quartered and grated
  • My mix of spice (coriander, black pepper, cloves)
  • Dry powder ginger (I didn’t have fresh stuff on hand)
  • One cup apple juice
  • One cup cider… apple cider, not that other imitation stuff
  • Half cup olive oil
  • Dry herbs of your choice and to your taste… thyme, rosemary, the stuff that goes with lamb
  • Rock salt ground, to taste
  • Half cup soft brown sugar
  • Two lemons, one squeezed into the marinade, the other for using while you braai
  • A bit of time and effort… not forgetting a slurp or three of cider

Tip: Leave the skin on the apple, you can actually grate the flesh out of the peel without managing to make messy red stains all over the apples!

Gosh, that’s now taken the word count well over 650 and I’ve not showed you a photo yet! Let’s remedy that…

Some of the staples...

Mind you, I’m prone to forget adding things when I take the photos… usually I’m so engrossed in supping the refreshments… sorry, preparing the ingredients that I snap without too much thought.

Grand… now you can at least get an idea of what goes in… sans lemons and sugar. You’ll have to look carefully to spot the cider, but then… this is a family show so we shouldn’t lead the youngsters astray.

At some point the fire needs lighting. Usually Junior Son takes care of that aspect so when he was away playing a Friday evening game of cricket I had to multi-task. As mentioned, I miss adding ingredients when modeling the photos and so do I miss showing all the stages so, now you’re going to see what it looked like once the chops were snugly soothed by the completed marinade…

Lovingly prepared... ok, enthusiastically prepared!

… yes, I know what you’re thinking… surely nothing good can arise from that concoction! Wrong!

Eventually, we arrive at the point of truth… the braai. At this juncture I’ll suggest you scroll down to the photo in the previous post where you see the large green thing providing shelter… yes, seemingly the Celtic weather fairies were not too pleased that I was at my favorite pastime again. Just look-see at this sky… you’d have to agree.

Angry sky? More likely confused sky!

I purposely used the roof and chimney as reference when I took the photo because otherwise folk may think this image is CG! No, it’s not!

Right… now will follow very few words and a sequence… oh, make that a wee gallery, of the braai…

After all those words… here’s a look at the end result! Soon we’ll have to get our hands on those large, elongated restaurant plates…

Better, BETTER! Flipping great!

If you’re wondering about the very pale potato salad… shop special as this whole process happened on a Friday evening after work… we ate after nine… yep, I was still standing in the butchers at about five.

So, the moral of the story?

  • The marinade is great, do try and make it the evening before and get the flavours to really infuse! (Gosh, I’m starting to sound as pompous as that Oliver fella…)
  • How about a de-boned leg of lamb?
  • The original recipe suggests using the left over marinade to make a sauce… yep, that’s happening next time!
  • Don’t be too holy about the cut… it will all be good, even in the oven, me thinks! Slow roast in the darkest days of winter? Yep!!
  • No, the ribs got a separate treatment… but more of that later…

Finally, as I occasionally use Hemingway#s wise words when writing on the other blog… why not leave you with the thoughts of another of my hero’s… the inimitable Sir Keith Floyd,

“I apparently said that celebrity cooks are so up their own bottoms that they do not realise that food should be fun, not a station waiting for a train to arrive to take them to a destination to learn how to cook”

For a great Floyd read… do click here!

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Fish, Glorious FISH!! And Don’t Forget The Prawns!!

OK… I’ve shown you how to burn the grid clean… I’ve even shown you a 2 prawn taster. Now I’ll show you the whole thing. A week or so ago a friend at work told of stopping off in Howth to buy some fresh sea bass. He bbq’ed the fish and while he was relating the story I think both of us were salivating. Him at the memory of his experience and me at the reminders of many a fish braais back in the bad old SA.

Then, to my delight, I found out last Saturday that we weren’t required for taxi duties until late afternoon so I convinced the special one that we should head off to Howth, for a walk and to get ourselves a few fish to throw on the braai. I’ll confess, in all the years in Ireland I have NEVER braaied fish! Time then, for things to change. We enjoyed our walk-about on the Howth Head… taking in the scenery and happily snapping away like tourists. Well, I can get away with it because of my strong SA accent. So, it’s easy to blend in and act dumb.

OK, back to the story. We visited one of Dublin’s famous fisheries… and walked away with 5 fish and about half a kilo of prawns. All for a few cents less than 30 yo-yo’s! Oh, don’t forget the massive lemon. Back home, I doctored the ingredients while the good lady went off to acquire the makings of a few salads, and her delectable creamed mushrooms.

You may wonder why so little prawns. It’s really only me who eats them, Granddad and Junior Son will usually have a few each but mostly the job of devouring the pink tails falls upon my frail shoulders. OK, enough waffle… here’s the gallery. Before I get going though… not good tourists we turned out to be… not a single photo of the inside or outside of the fish merchant’s place… so, as advertising I’ll have to show you the carrier bag I set off with…

Lessons learned?

  1. Kick self’s posterior, repeatedly… for waiting this long to braai fish!
  2. The GLW is warming to prawns… next time I’ll shell them and let her enjoy them in a salad
  3. Maybe it will be wise covering the fish with a lid to cook evenly…
  4. Refer to lesson 1…
  5. Try other fish on the braai as well… the sea bass is a tad bony! Nothing like a good shad on the braai!
  6. Refer to lesson 1

PS – The rain lashed down at one point… but there’s nothing top stop a Saffer braaiing!!

your's truly braving the elements... again!

Oh well… this makes it all worthwhile! The GLW posted this on her FB page… to great response!

Not too shabby, even if I may say so myself!

Banana & Berry Loaf

Yes, I know. This is supposed to be a site all about meat and the art of braaiing. So, you’re quite correct in assuming I’ve sort of lost the plot… again. But darn… scroll down just a little and you’ll see what I had to contend with last time I made a braai fire. The resultant frozen mind warp conclusions drawn after that last braai? Two fold, I’ll wait until we have dry wood and charcoal before I braai again!

However, I’m usually in the mood to do something along the food line during weekends. The idea for a bit of a bake began at work. We are fortunate to have fresh fruit supplied each morning. On the odd occasion the bananas are not at their best and the young lad who brings the supplies takes the bruised fruit away. I asked one morning where the fruit goes, half expecting an answer of

“Oh… the chef uses it to produce loaves of … or… or…”

“In the bin,” was his answer.

“No, not anymore…” said I… “I’ll take the bananas home… my GLW makes a great banana loaf.”

So… I took the bananas home. In the mean time I had a brain wave… banana and raisin loaf? Could that be a runner? The GLW wasn’t at all in the mood for my crazy idea. OK, I thought… I do a search on the web to see if the idea was so far-fetched. No, there were pages of recipes. Pages!

I looked at a few of the top ranked and chose the one included below.

http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/6725/banana—raisin-loaf.aspx

On Saturday morning we rooted around in the cupboards to ensure we had all the ingredients required. The raisins were long devoured so we set off to get some of the bits, butter, eggs and raisins. The friendly German store’s raisin supply was also long devoured so my GLW selected a mixed berry and cherry sachet. A lady at work, who had also taken a few bananas to make her own loaf, mentioned blueberries giving a good zing to the loaf so I grabbed a 300 gram punnet for posterity.

Once back home the fun began… mix, squish, squash, beat… fold in… add fruit. At one point during the prep of the bananas Senior Son, my most strident critic, walked into the kitchen to inquire about the activity.

“Banana loaf?” 

He walked off, seemingly disinterested. A few minutes later he was back in the kitchen

“Why must you use rotten bananas?”

Aha… he was concerned that I would again be attempting to poison him, thought I… like so many other times!

“Ripe… soft, over ripe even,” answered I, “Not rotten.” 

Was that a snort of disdain I heard as he went off? Who cares, I was on a squishing roll.

When all the ingredients were well blended the wet mix went into the baking tins… then into the oven. The wait was on, like the expectant father I paced… and paced.

No, I went off to blog. Forty five minutes later the results were there for all to see. And the taste? Well, the hungry horde made short work of the first loaf. I’d say within 30 minutes of exiting the oven it was well gone. By Sunday morning the second one was also a thing of memory. My verdict? Hot or cold, the results are better that expected. Yes, even Senior Son had to admit, it was a winner!

So… Sunday morning I decided it was time to do it all again. For the camera and so I could take a loaf to work. Yes, every time I mention taking the bananas home I get slagged that I can’t make an edible loaf. Well, I beg to differ… here’s the proof!! (Click on the top left pic, then navigate for captions… )

I have a confession to make… we didn’t know where the kitchen scale had vanished to so all the measurements were approximations. The two batches differed significantly. The first was moist, almost wet, that’s why it worked well hot. The taste? Both were good…

Fresh from the oven...

Fresh from the oven… looking great!

Lessons learned? Find the scale… get smaller baking pans for this mix quantity, ie, three would be better than the two bread pans I used.

The softer the bananas the better! Did I say find the scale? Yes… I’ll do it again, using different dried fruit as the mood takes me… banana and fruit loaf… mmmm, good stuff, that’s for sure!

Cut them dear... cut them thick!! ;-)

Update 25 Feb 2014: – The last batch didn’t include blueberries or the dried berry mix but rather I substituted mixed nuts and raisins with the mix mentioned above. Also, as I had a scale to use I went even lighter on the sugar and made sure the mix was sloppy… that makes for a moist loaf… again, devoured by all…

Contradictions!

There are a few things in life that just don’t fit… a Saffer supporting a Kiwi rugby team… considering a cold Chilean red suitable for summer supping… preferring to eat Vegan when meat is the only way forward.

Wet braai wood in almost sub-zero conditions would be one such contradiction. Man… when you run out of charcoal and its mid winter and it’s Ireland and your local wood merchant has long sold out his last few dry sticks… then you simply soldier on… and blow… and fan… and use almost a box of artificial fire lighters… and blow… and pray a bit. Yes, we eventually had our feed… not too bad… but, that’s a story for another day!

Wood blowing bubbles... winter braai fun!

When last have you had this kind of party fun? Bubbles? Yes please sir… could we have some more? NOT!!

Rules of Engagement?

Continuing from the first post… where does one begin to tell the story? Conversely put… how does one eat an elephant? That’s easy as you all know… you eat the beast little by little… bit by bit. That’s how I’ll relating the tale here at BB&B.

Tradition is a strong reminder and binder. It reminds us of home and binds us to what was once that home. I am as South African as you will ever find. So many generation back that even the Portuguese sea captains and French Huguenots come into the equation. Maybe that’s why I love the ideas of France and Portugal so much. OK, enough history.

Tradition can also become a way of life. Tradition can translate to others as well. My Good Lady Wife wasn’t born on the African continent yet braaiing is absolutely normal for her and the rest of the family. I dare you… ask the good lady what she wants for Christmas fare and you’ll soon be put right… the roasts on the braai! Yes, I kid you not!

I’ll take it a step further… picture this. Our 5-year-old grandson, born and bred here in Ireland… has never set foot on any portion of Africa, never-mind South Africa, yet… when the other day he accidentally overheard mention of ‘braai’ his ears pricked up and he enthusiastically asked…

“Are we having a braai?”

No, he didn’t ask if we were having a bbq… he asked if it would be a braai! Even the very little ones know and appreciate the great tastes associated with braaiing.

OK… I’ve waffled on enough for today. I’ll leave you with one of my favourite braai photos… yes, Christmas in the snow… a labour of love. Read more about it here. Until next time… may the coals be just right and the lamb tender!

Braai time... Christmas Day 2010, Kilcock, Ireland. Santi in the snow!!

The Beginning…

Where to begin? Well, for a site that’s meant to extol the virtues of the braai one must surely be tempted to get cracking with the fire first! OK… then we’ll begin at the beginning. The fire. The fire is the heart and soul of any good bbq. Imagine going to all the trouble of going off to the butcher to collect a few choice cuts of meat. The stuff’s not all that cheap you know, especially if you have half a tribe of hungry, growing sons and now grandsons.

In my home country, South Africa, braaiing is a way of life so when one uproots and moves halfway across the world to Ireland something must be carried along and yes, something may also be lost. Here on the Green Island where life is easy for beef, poultry, lamb and swine the meat is great but the weather not always so. That means braaiing opportunities are rather few and far between… if you let a bit of weather get in your way.

We braai rather often, including doing the Christmas roasts on the bbq (almost) every year since we arrived in 2001. Yes, even the year it snowed, click here for proof! The problem with out of season braaiing is the lack of charcoal. We used to get our charcoal from a local SA shop which has now moved on because of the tight economic times. Now, of late, I’ve been experimenting with local hardwoods. Not altogether as successful as I hope but with a bit of planning one can get a fair result.

So… that’s where we’ll begin… with the fire…

A mixture of beech and balckthorn works resonable well for braaiing lamb ribs. Well for steak too!

I’ll elaborate as time goes by about some of the reasons for the creation of this blog. I hope this new blog turns into a showcase for all sorts of braai related products and even the odd recipe or idea for cooking or meat preparation.

So long for now, may the fire burn brightly and the coals be great!